A view of Camp Hale in Colorado. (Courtesy of EcoFlight)
The three Republican U.S. representatives from Colorado urged President Joe Biden in a letter dated Thursday against using his authority to designate land named in the stalled Colorado Outdoor and Recreation Act as a national monument, arguing that the designation does not have congressional or local support.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, along with Reps. Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn, are the lead signatories on the letter asking Biden not to use authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to name tens of thousands of acres surrounding Camp Hale in Leadville a national historic landscape, which would protect it from drilling and mining. Camp Hale is a former World War II-era military training ground.
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Protecting the land is a key provision from the CORE Act, which has passed a Democratic-controlled House a number of times but has never moved beyond the Senate. Most recently, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Rep. Joe Neguse, all Democrats from Colorado, asked Biden to use the Antiquities Act to accomplish those aims after they hosted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the site to court him as an ally.
Boebert, who has been a vocal opponent of the CORE Act, disagrees with the plan to use executive action instead of going through Congress.
“While Camp Hale and our service members that were stationed there made important contributions to World War II, we don’t support the efforts of extremist environmentalists who are seeking to hijack this historic place to create a new land designation,” the Boebert letter reads.
“We urge you to reject this overreach and request for unilateral use of executive power. There is no compelling reason why local opposition and the United States Congress should be ignored or undermined, particularly as CORE Act proponents have not been able to get their egregious bill and related provisions signed into law after more than a decade,” the letter continues.
Six other Republican members of Congress — including Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona — from states other than Colorado signed the letter.
The signatories argue that “locking up hundreds of thousands of acres through the stroke of a pen” does not fulfill the original intent of the Antiquities Act. They wrote that an Antiquities Act designation could disturb private water rights, prohibit timber harvesting and cut off access to natural gas deposits.
So far, Biden has restored full protections to three national monuments that former President Donald Trump reduced in size: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New England.
The former Camp Hale, near Leadville, is where 10th Mountain Division soldiers trained before heading to fight in World War II. The U.S. Army continued to use the location for winter training exercises until 1965. It is now a popular recreation spot.
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